The amount and formulation of an adult drug given to children with congenital heart failure varies widely, a UK survey indicates.
Survey returns from pharmacies linked to 13 children's specialist heart centres and 13 large hospitals referring to them, showed that four organisations dispensed captopril tablets for crushing and adding to water.
The other 22 used nine different liquid formulations of the drug, four of which were prepared on site. The other five were obtained from various sources.
Three hospitals recommended formulations after discharge that differed from those prescribed while the child had been an inpatient. Only three specialist centres and their referring hospitals used the same formulations.
The authors said the discrepancies thrown up by their findings suggested that children may not be getting the most effective dose, and that they may also be being put at risk. This in turn could affect the success of surgery, which children with heart failure repeatedly undergo, they added.
Archives of Disease in Childhood (2007) adc.bmj.com